The biggest lesson Visit Wichita (Kansas) learned once it began collecting loads of digital information to evaluate its marketing efforts is it needed someone to track all the data. Enter William Graves, the CVB’s first data analyst, hired late last year to boost the city’s effort to attract more events. Visit Wichita President and CEO Susie Santo says the position is a necessity, especially for midtier cities with plenty to offer but competing for recognition. Santo, who for 19 years worked at Universal Studios Hollywood, asserts Wichita’s CVB is now ahead of the technology curve with Graves concentrating solely on data analytics. We spoke to Santo and Graves about the hire and the importance of tracking digital information.
Why add a full-time data analyst?
SS: We’ve had a significant presence digitally the last year and a half—more than we ever had before. We plan to use the data we now have so we are as effective as we can be with our advertising. That is, to speak to consumers the way they want to be spoken to on the device they want to receive information. Ultimately, we are looking to drive visitors to our destination. The next step was to hire a data guru.
How will you study the data?
WG: It’s going to be a multifaceted approach. We’re not going to take one data source and be happy with that. It will be through any platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) we can reach consumers and drive them to our website. We’re going to look at the analytics on the website to see what [content] was able to capture that customer engagement and if the information was readily available. We’re not going to look at one separate report but each as part of a whole. It will be exciting to see how that information fits together.
What have you already learned about how Wichita is viewed?
SS: Our national research has shown, especially with meeting planners, many people don’t have a perception of Wichita at all. They don’t have a negative perception; they simply don’t have one. It shows we need to spread the word because we know when we get planners to Wichita, they are sold. We’ve tweaked our messaging and advertising to make sure we are resonating.